Magazine article National Defense

Collaboration Is Key to Meeting War Fighter Technology Needs

Magazine article National Defense

Collaboration Is Key to Meeting War Fighter Technology Needs

Article excerpt

* At a time when U.S. forces are heavily engaged in two major wars and preparing for an unpredictable future, it is more important than ever to make sure the nation develops the right technologies for its war fighters.

Science and technology organizations--both at the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security--are under enormous pressure to deliver not just relevant technologies but also cost-effective systems. Key to achieving these goals is the ability of government science and technology organizations to engaged in healthy collaboration with industry, academia and the operational users.

The collaboration must take the form of increased and direct communication between war fighters and technologists.

The U.S. Pacific Command has been among the most proactive organizations in reaching out to industry and tailoring investments to war fighter needs. Charles Kimzey, science and technology advisor to the Pacific Command, recently led PACOM's second annual science and technology conference, which was organized by NDIA. Last year's event drew around 300 attendees. This year, the conference was oversubscribed and had to be closed at 700 attendees. In addition to senior U.S. officials, the conference featured presentations by allied representatives from Singapore, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia. The audience heard talks from think tank researchers, futurists, and war fighters--including special operators--with recent combat experience. It is significant to note that all service science and technology leaders (at the two-star level) plus the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency made presentations.

All agreed that areas such as persistent surveillance, reliable and secure communications, and alternative energy sources require more attention and investments. Speakers also called for further trust and cooperation among services and across international partners.

The allied participants expressed the need for access to secure trade routes, affordable technologies, collaborative networks, robust sensors, missile defense, advanced prototypes, cryptology, nanotechnology, micro-electromechanical systems and cognitive training systems. The overarching premise was that equipping the man is the goal, not manning the equipment.

Futurists at the conference said a major challenge is to reset the forces for the future not the past. …

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